A check of the final campaign finance reports from 2014 shows that the DFL was the clear winner. At least when it came to money.
The state DFL Party reports spending nearly $8 million last year, compared to the Republican Party of Minnesota, which spent $3.7 million. Equally notable is the parties’ debt: $30,000 for the DFL and $500,000 for the GOP. (These are debts recorded on state filings. Federal filings show the DFL with a debt of just over $500,000 and the state GOP with debt of just over $1 million.)
The DFL-aligned Alliance for a Better Minnesota maintained its status as model for outside spending groups. The ABM’s Action Fund spent $5.3 million, $500,000 of that on behalf of Dayton.
Spending against Republicans was the hallmark of ABM this election cycle. It reported spending $2.4 million against GOP gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson. The ABM Action fund also directed almost $1 million in television and online advertising against Republican candidates for the Minnesota House, notably Jim Knoblach, Tim Miller, Ryan Rutzick, Kirk Stensrud, Stacey Stout, Barb Sutter, Andrea Todd-Harlin and Jennifer Wilson.
Yet for all the battles the DFL won, it ended up losing the war. All but Knoblach and Miller were defeated, but Republicans took control of the state House.
Republicans were assisted by the Freedom Club, which spent $1.4 million, mainly on behalf of GOP legislative candidates. Freedom Club gave $200,000 to the state party and $4,000 to Jeff Johnson’s campaign. The Minnesota Action Network spent $856,000 and the Minnesota Jobs Coalition spent $770,000. Both groups targeted their spending on legislative candidates.
Given the amount of outside spending this election cycle, the campaign for governor register almost as an afterthought. In total, the Dayton campaign spent just over $3 million to get the governor re-elected, while Johnson spent $2.4 million, roughly eight dollars to Dayton’s ten.